Go Ultra Low: Half A Million Motorists In UK Don’t Know They’re Ready To Drive Electric

APR 29 2016 BY MARK KANE 28

Plug-in Electric Car Registrations in UK – March 2016

Plug-in Electric Car Registrations in UK – March 2016  January to March sales of plug-in cars reached a record high in the UK, with 10,496 new EVs registered in the first three months of 2016. This represents the highest-ever number of EV registrations in a quarter and a 22.7% increase over the same period in 2015. There have now been 71,463 claims for the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant, which offers up to £4,500 off the price of a new electric car.

According to research from Go Ultra Low, there is an enormous potential in the car market for EVs, as half a million UK motorists are already suited to electric motoring.

As it turns out, 98% of surveyed drivers drives less than 100 miles daily, while nearly half of that require less than 15 miles.

Thus, electric car sales could surge from about 1.4% market share to 20% overnight “if buyers considered their requirements more carefully“.

The latest data indicates more than 71,000 claims received to date for Government’s Plug-in Car Grant to date.

“The joint Government and automotive industry campaign profiled the mind-set of more than 2,000 UK motorists to see how their new car requirements have changed over time. The research compared new vehicle buyer’s purchase considerations and their driving habits to those of existing electric car drivers to identify motorists who were better-suited to an electric car.

Of those surveyed, almost half drive no more than 15 miles a day, while 98% said they travel less than 100 miles daily – within the range of pure electric vehicles (EVs) and easily achievable in a plug-in hybrid. The survey also revealed that buyers increasingly seek low running costs and are twice as likely to rate fuel efficiency as their main concern when purchasing a car, compared to when they bought their first car. Also, around 80% of car buyers use finance options to purchase their car with a preference for monthly payments. Despite this, just 12% of new car buyers consider total monthly running costs, including fuel, tax, insurance, and servicing when choosing their new car.

With electric car finance deals from as little as £150 a month, plus fuel costs from 2p per mile, lower maintenance bills and the cheapest rates of tax, electric vehicles are a good option to help manage monthly outgoings.”

Nissan LEAF charging in UK

Nissan LEAF charging in UK

Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low, said:

“The plug-in car market has been boosted by unprecedented growth over the last 12 months. Our research shows that more motorists than ever are perfectly suited to electric motoring and should consider a plug-in vehicle as their next car. With low running costs, tax exemptions and free parking in many locations, it’s no longer a question of will more motorists choose electric, but when.”

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

“The case for switching to an electric car is clear, and it’s not surprising to see that sales are soaring.  Electric cars are greener, cheaper to run, and we are making them more affordable by investing more than £600million to support the uptake and manufacturing of these vehicles in the UK. This is all part of our commitment to making every car and van a zero emission vehicle by 2050.”

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28 Comments on "Go Ultra Low: Half A Million Motorists In UK Don’t Know They’re Ready To Drive Electric"

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But everyone is like “But what do I do when I wan to go on a long car trip?!?!”

Well charge it up at a fast-charger! Rent a gas car for that rare long trip! Get plug-in hybrid! Aaaarrrgh.

I can tell you, empirically, that I went on fewer car trips once I went electric–even with a gas loaner offered by my dealer. It’s just one more hassle.

However, it’s the fear, rather than the reality, of lost car trips which depresses sales.

Secondarily, often times one runs short on range not because of the occasional car trip, but because of three or four semi-long errands within a single weekend, and/or forgetting to charge the night before due to various distractions, crises, etc. Those events stick in your memory disproportionately to their frequency.

Oh I definitely go on less trips too. Or I borrow other cars or do ZIPcar. But my EV only has the ~80 mile range and no DC fast-charger.

But if I had a 200 mile range EV plus supercharger access, I would have no problems with the trips I would make. If I had a plug-in hybrid like the Volt, I would have no problems.

So I’m not surprised many people rejected the ~80 mile EVs. But 200+ miles plus Superchargers changes that a lot. And it is damn shame that more people haven’t been buying the Volt.

You have to remember this was a UK survey. No Volt there.

While IMO a Volt-type drivetrain (50mi+ AER, giving ~80% electric miles for most people) is an excellent compromise for the next 1-2 decades,
1) It is so far a US & Canada-only car;
2) It is only available as a 4.5 person compact liftback car. No midsize, no fullsize, no wagon, no CUV, no SUV.
3) It’s the _single_ car of its type. No other carmaker else has announced plans for a similar-range drivetrain, let alone shown a prototype. No concept car even, or even just vague mentions of future plans.

100mi cars aren’t yet common, and no mid=priced 200mi is actually available. The survey can’t rely on them.

The Chevrolet Volt and its sister car the Vauxhall Ampera were in fact sold in the UK. Not very many buyers though, which is a shame.

However, GM does not plan to sell the gen 2 Volt overseas, just the Bolt EV.

The Chrysler Pacifica PHEV will be close to the Volt’s capabilities, with 16 kWh, full $7500 tax credit, and 30 miles EV range. A great option for people that need a larger vehicle than the Volt.


Yes, I know about the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera; however the 1st-gen was not available for very long, and while I’m sure the 2nd-gen will eventually be available worldwide (assuming the 2nd-gen is as popular in the US as everyone expects it to be, no reason it wouldn’t, once GM figures out how to deal with the EU import duty issue), it won’t be for a while.
The Pacifica was announced to be a 30-mi AER, which is excellent, but 30 is still a lot less than 53, and I suspect will be more like 20-25mi AER given a fully loaded minivan (7 people + gear).

What on Earth has a Volt got to do with it? It’s not an EV!!!???!!!

An island nation like Britain makes the best case for an EV. They are never going to drive outside their country which is very small. Just a few charging stations along the way can help the EV go from the northern most part to the southern most part which is just 1,000 km away. With most of the EVs having 200 km range, 4 charging stops in between will cover the distance.

For a car like Model S, just 1 charge in between will do with its 500 km range.

But oil companies like Shell/BP will never allow any plan to materialize. Its up to the individual British to decide the right course and save the island from Global Warming related catastrophes.

I guess you have only seen UK on a map. 😛
It’s 1000 km long (3-4 super charger stops) and 500 km wide.
Lots of britts love to drive down to southern France/Spain etc. for vacations so just staying in their country is not true, it’s not New Zealand 😛

Even with a long range Tesla you need a well built out supercharging network to get around. And an 80 mile BEV barely takes you around central London.

There is a good reason why PHEVs dominates the UK EV sales.

The good thing about Britain is you are never too far from infrastructure. But otherwise it’s just like many other countries. It’s much easier to fly from London to Edinburgh than to drive. International travel is not only possible, it is fairly common indeed.

The article is about none of these things, though. It’s about people using their cars mostly for local commuting. You could replace Britain with USA or Australia in this context and arrive with same conclusions.

Actually every year millions of people (including me) drive from UK to France and other countries. You can hop on a ferry or Eurostar high speed train and continue your journey.

Unfortunately the survey is most likely not asking if the people have a way to charge at home.
I know that I and many can’t buy an EV due to this issue.

Indeed, I noticed that too.

The survey is a bit simplistic. Not everyone has a dedicated parking place and permission to install an EV slow charge point there.

Part of the EV revolution will be ensuring that every car owner has a place to charge his car overnight and/or at work.

Yeah, I guess they aren’t familiar with restrictive HOA’s or the process of getting a zoning variance.

And there you have the nub of the matter. 60% plus of households in the UK have no access to off-street parking.

Poppy can witter on all she likes but unless and until the UK government sort out how even an average 30 mile a day EV’er is going to charge their EV if they don’t have off-street parking (*and* a mains power supply of course!) the whole idea is a non-starter. And it *must* be a government led and funded thing because no-one is going to make any money out of charging EVs for a long, long time yet.

From Norway we see that achieving around 20 % market share is relatively easy. Many EV models are available and the families with two cars often also have charging available. To go above 20 % market share requires additional EV models and more widespread charging facilities for all housing forms.

You are forgetting a minor things…
The huge incentives (not really a subsidy, as ICE cars are heavily taxed and EVs aren’t).

True, the solution I observed in the Netherlands where people park their cars on the street and charge there all night tends to take care of the apartment, public housing, places without private parking issue.

The U.K. Is a great place for an ev, the driving distances are shorter, traffic is heavier and the charging infrastructure is pretty good. The 3 major draw backs that I see are: the high cost of ev’s vs ice cars (made worse by high tax rates that exaggerates the price difference), failure of fleet buyers to purchase ev’s and a lack of access to home charging in most major towns. IMO the last point is a major hurdle that I am yet to see a solution to, without home charging ev’s are really not practical. Adoption could still be much higher as there are plenty of people with off street parking but I can’t see 30% sales (as required by 2021) without serious thought going into home charging.

Just_Chris said:

“…a lack of access to home charging in most major towns. IMO the last point is a major hurdle that I am yet to see a solution to, without home charging ev’s are really not practical.”

I read recently that during the motorcar revolution, New York City went from a city where most traffic was horses and horse-drawn vehicles, to most traffic being motorcars, in the space of 10 years.

It puzzles me that so many people posting to InsideEVs apparently don’t understand that as EVs become more commonplace, quite naturally there will be increasing public demand for EV charge points in parking lots, and increasing pressure on municipalities to install curbside chargers in residential areas where people park on the street.

Accomodating EV charging wherever cars park will require far less of a change to our cities and towns than the motorcar revolution did! No need to pave every dirt or gravel street, and no need to replace hitching posts with parking spaces, or livery stables with parking lots.

There’s somehting important missing in the article: The definition of “less than x miles daily”.

Did they just ask like miles/year and divided that by 365,25 days/year (or maybe only working days/year, which makes that only a little bit better)?
If the distance zu work is really <15 miles, did they also ask for e.g. weekly/monthly/yearly driven longer distances like going home for the weekend nearly every week, driving for vacations (much longer distance), etc.?

Not asking for such things is like putting your head into a hot oven, your feed into a freezer and then complaining that you feel sick although your average temperature is absolutely ok…


Build better EVs and they will. Or lower the prices. I’m sure many people would consider buying an EV if it was priced in a way that reflected the limitations of the car but paying luxury ICE price for a low end EV just won’t do for most people. Only environmentalists pay $35k for an 100 mile car when you can get a 300 mile ICE for $20k.

more than just environmentalists buy them

Sure but most people are not passionate about EVs as the people reading this website are. Many people just want a device that takes you from A to B. If you are looking for a cheap way to go to work and zip around town, you can get a cheap ICE for $15k or a low-range EV for $25k-$35k. You get a lot of gasoline for $10k, especially driving a small hatchback. With incentives prices even out a bit but it’s still an expensive purchase for a low range/low capacity car. There is certainly a market for 100 mile EVs but they need to be priced accordingly.

I’m not an environmentalist and I drive one every day of my life, mainly because they are awesome to drive. My late model Honda Odyssey drives like an antique compared with my LEAF. I’m converted. And, I live in a part of the world where the is almost no charging infrastructure.

This has been known since 20 years. And it still totally irrelevant.

Well it doesn’t matter what you drive daily. If you in the weekend often go 200miles, then today’s evs are a complicated and slow choice, even if there are dc chargers along the way.

I don’t agree unless you have some real need to get where you are going with utmost speed. If you accept that on a journey that takes 4 hours or more that you’ll need a break half way then all you have to do is combine your break with a rapid charge. End of issue… Assuming, of course, that there is a rapid charger free when you arrive and it isn’t defective nor ICE’ed by some ignorant ICEV-driving a£$e.